The Angular Recording Company - Interview
The Angular Recording Company are slowly becoming one of the UK's national treasures. As independent as hell & twice as compact - Angular represent a return to the DIY aesthetics of the Punk Rock explosion & it's subsequent 'indie' comet tail.
Their second Angualar compilation LP, "Rip Off Your Labels" (see reviews page), follows 2003's highly influential "New Cross" collection (which is already changing hands for silly money amongst those who care). Marquee Smith traked down the mysterious & enigmatic pair of Joes who have the Angular tiller in their capable hands:
trakMARX - Which other labels (past or present) could be regarded as a role model for the Angular Recording Corporation?
Angular Joes - The record labels we like best are Factory and Postcard. Factory, because it was anti-corporate - and had a nice catalogue system. Postcard, for its name - selectivity in dealing with only good bands - and because they knew when to stop. Alan Horne is also a good character, having declared Joy Division 'lower than dogshit'.
trakMARX - How did the Angular Recording Corporation come about?
Joe M: Both Joe and myself attended a 'demo workshop' run by Plum Promotions. Listening to the reactions of the panel consolidated our theory that no-one in the music industry knows anything, they just pretend to, buy each other drinks and then sign Athlete, or whatever, and carry on being contemptible scum. We wanted to react against this by putting out bands we loved as a whim, not a business decision. I suppose it was because I think that artists who aspire to be signed to a label (especially a major) have bought into a huge scam, and simply become someone else's work - what they often set out to avoid in the first place. As long as doing stuff for Angular continues to be the opposite of work, then I think it's a good thing.
Joe D: It was summer and I was watching less TV, then we found the headquarters and it went from there really. These triangulation stations are dotted around the country creating a network of points that are used by the Ordnance Survey to lay down control. Since we wanted to do a similar kind of thing, it made sense to use our local trig point as a place to start from.
trakMARX - Did either of you have any 'previous experience' of running a label?
Joe M: No, and I like it that way. We have no idea what we're doing. We just read '45' by Bill
Drummond, and thought it would be a good thing to do.
Joe D: We like music a lot and that's all the experience you need. And when you read books like that there's no need to worry about whether you are doing the right thing or not.
trakMARX - What is the Angular manifesto?
Joe M: There isn't really a concrete manifesto as such, because the aim is (in part) to have no aim. However, the word 'Angular' represents a number of things to me including a rejection of musicianship and the ideas of the 'virtuoso' or 'genius'. It embraces my view that music, by its very definition, is a contrivance - it is made up, copied and edited, rather than falling out of a guitar/the sky/whatever else musicians would have you believe. These kind of views mystify the processes of making music. I also hate the idea of 'blokes in bands' - rockists strutting about wielding guitar solos, so it's kind of a reaction against that.
Joe D: We're just talking to the kids.
trakMARX - Yr debut release - "The New Cross - An Angular Sampler" - represented the intense underground action eating away at the rotten cores of our nation's cities. How long have you been aware of such likeminded souls - & how did you all meet?
Joe D: Many of the bands are our friends, or friends of friends. They were just people in bands, some who lived locally to us in New Cross, who seemed to share some common ideas and goals, and a healthy hatred of over-long songs. Most had also experienced distain from the mainstream music industry, but support from people who actually like music - fanzines such as Joyzine.co.uk
Joe M: It will be amusing to see how many former disinterested people now U-turn, because the NME have decided that pretending to like us might shift some copies. They seem to be championing two made-up scenes at the moment: 'New Cross' and 'Shroomadelica'. I'd like to see us go head to head. Obviously 'New Cross' would win, because being Hippies, the 'Shroomadelica' bands probably think that sounding like the Doors is a good idea. The funny thing is, New Cross is actually brimming with Hippies, most of them in awful bands.
trakMARX - You describe your roster as 'anti-art-punk-electro-new-wave-pop'. In what context does the word 'anti' appear?
Joe M: Just because the idea of a 'genre' is a really comical one designed to help shelving designers in HMV. However, without a label people won't listen to your music, so it seemed appropriate to stick 'anti' on the front of a ridiculously long genre name.
Joe D: 'Anti' is there because it always makes me squirm when I'm asked 'what music do you like?'
It could just say 'indie' music and that would be true as well.
trakMARX - Your second compilation release - "Rip Off Your Labels" - keeps the quality threshold well into the red, casts the net wider & avoids accusations of regional nepotism as a result. Are compilations the backbone of Angular?
Joe M: So far that would seem to be the case, but for no real reason. Some people thought the first compilation was pretty good, we thought it was rushed and we could do a better one. The album should be in most shops from June 21st...The first album we did was a subsidised price, but since we plan on following the new a compilation up with other releases, we made it mid-priced.
Joe D: Yes, until we release some more stuff.
trakMARX - Art Brut & Bloc Party are already knocking on all the right doors - who do you consider most likely to follow them?
Joe M: I believe some of the people in certain Angular bands used to work for a front door fund raising company, so they're already really good at knocking on doors. I would predict that The Long Blondes and The Violets get some attention, and happily they're two of my favourite Angular acts - which is good because they're touring together in July.
Joe D: Since Joe already chose my band [!!], I'll go for Lovers of Today and the Fucks, but
y'know, it should be everyone on the CD really...And it might well be.
trakMARX - What do Angular Recording execs listen to at home?
Joe M: I'm obsessed with the Go-Betweens, especially the first few albums, so they're always on my CD player. To me, they are the perfect band. I like the fact that they felt completely out of synch with everything, before falling in with the Postcard bands and finding like-minded people. It's a bit like what's happening at the moment with Angular bands. Also big favourites are Wire, Magnetic Fields, Baader Meinhof, Be Good Tanyas, Uncle Tupelo, The Broken Family Band. I'm currently enjoying the Slits and the fantastic Erase Errata...
Joe D: I downloaded a great Wedding Present song earlier called 'This Boy Can Wait', and some other stuff from that C86 compilation which is quite cool. But summer is always a time for bright pop music so The Supremes and The Shangri-las and the Au Pairs also.
trakMARX - Who would be the dream Angular signing (regardless of current label status)?
Joe M: Well, The Long Blondes was the first. So as Gabrielle says, sometimes dreams come true. However, now it would have to be The Go-Betweens in about 1981. We've also just signed a band called 'The Isolates'. They're a four piece, but the idea is they must never meet each other. We're going to make a record with them. I'm not sure how they'll work live yet - maybe some sort of 'Blind Date' style screen?
Joe D: I would like to sign Rod Stewart and force him to make an album with a vocoder and computers that sounds nothing like him. And then release it in a kind of inverted scenario of what happened to Neil Young with 'Trans' or 'Tron' or whatever it was called. That or the Spice Girls reunion.
trakMARX - Who will never release a record on Angular - regardless.
Joe M: If I ran a pub called the 'Angular Arms' there would be a sign on the door reading "No rockists, no musos, no Rod Stewart..."
Joe D: Neil Young
trakMARX - How did LONDON TRIANGULATION go down?
Joe D: 1st night: Hangover, reasonable audience, made 20 quid. 2nd night: Irritating promoter, good gig though. 3rd night: Bad DJ'ing by me, but the Long Blondes and the Boyfriends made up for it.
Joe M: It was a great success, considering the concept of nine bands over three nights. Ideally, we would have had all three gigs simultaneously while I stood at the Triangulation Station, but in the end I didn't want to miss any of the bands...
trakMARX - Are 'events' important to Angular?
Joe M: Events are great, because you can give them a catalogue number, and archive the posters. Also it's a good way of allowing people with similar musical ideas to meet and make friends. There are so many shit gigs everyday in London, we thought the only way we could ensure we go to a good one was to put it on ourselves. Hopefully other people will enjoy most of the bands, too.
Joe D: Yes. The Paradise Bar is great. Easily the most relaxed and fun and cheapest venue in London. It's not like the Water Rats. They are also a good chance for Angular People to meet each other and share thoughts about their favourite kind of compass, or the merits of Gil Sans.
trakMARX - Have either of you read Alan McGoo's "Guide To Independent Label Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance"?
Joe M: No, but I read a book about Alan McGee and Creation records. There's a label that didn't know when to stop. I always enjoyed the feud between McGee and Luke Haines, and Luke saying that Creation going bankrupt was the best news he'd heard all year.
Joe D: No, I saw a documentary about McGee once and I thought he seemed nice, but not a good role model for Pete Doherty. More recently a friend of mine mooned him at death disco.
Joe M: Yes, it's not very nice feeding someone Heroin just to sell records. Shame on you.
trakMARX - What can we expect (apart from the unexpected, obviously) from Angular in terms of further releases in the near future?
Joe M: Expect a Long Blondes single, and an Elizabeth Harper album.
Joe D: And for Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter to be first in the queue.
trakMARX - If Angular has a maxim - what is it?
Joe M: One hand for the ARC...
Joe D:...and one for yourself.
NEW ALBUM 'RIP OFF YOUR LABELS'
In shops from JUNE 21st!!!
Marquee Smith - tMx 15 - 06/04